What does reading do for you?
For me, reading has always felt as essential as breathing. Books serve a world of purposes in my life…everything from education to comfort to entertainment to coaching. Reading puts me in other people’s shoes, gives me perspectives I would not be able to encounter on my own, and can discipline me in the art of discomfort from the safety of my squashy living room armchair. Once upon a time, a monk called me “a bit of an erudite” and honestly, that’s one of the best compliments I have ever received.
Reading (of the light, fictional, often historical and almost always set in the United Kingdom variety) is also my cure-all for stress, anxiety, and general feelings of what I refer to as “the womps.” It is my escape hatch on modern life, and I like to believe it’s healthier for my brain than re-watching The West Wing for the third time.
Last year, I set a reading goal of 52 books. I ended the year at 55, and you can view that entire list here. At this point in 2019, I am technically four books behind where I should be, but that is because (as my friend Bailey likes to remind me when I complain) I am reading the Outlander series and those books clock in at 700+ pages apiece.
Ah, well. C'est la vie.
I have not read nearly enough non-fiction this year, and that is mostly because the first part of this year was pretty stressful with transitioning back to life in the States and moving to Colorado…and fiction is where I turn when I am feeling stress. Now that we have settled in and my brain has more room to breathe, I am looking forward to digging into titles like I Think You’re Wrong (But I’m Listening) and Inspired.
Onwards, to the list!
“I cannot remember the books I've read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Honestly, I think I would have enjoyed this book more if I had read it as a child. That being said, it’s a classic for a reason, and I am glad that I finally got around to reading it for myself.
You will notice a theme throughout this list…British, uncomplicated, light, just-a-touch-of-a-love-story, novels. These are my literary palate cleansers and I do not apologize for it.
This might be my favorite fiction read of the year. Historical fiction with a strong leading lady, plenty of glorious Scotland, intrigue, adventure, plot twists, and feminist perspectives on sex/gender. SIGN ME UP. It is not “perfect” or “clean” (there’s violence, maybe some bigamy, and sexual assault) but I no longer expect the books I read to be perfect or clean. I absolutely loved Outlander and am now happily making my way through the series.
A merry little book about books and book lovers, written by one of the most passionate bibliophiles I know. A quick read, plus one of the loveliest covers I’ve seen in a while.
The second book in the Outlander series was honestly a bit of a letdown after my sensational experience with the first one. I spent most of this book just wishing Jamie and Claire would get back to Scotland already instead of lollygagging around Paris. That being said, I stayed up past my bedtime six nights in a row while reading this book.
This is a fictionalized account of the life of Joy Davidman, wife to CS Lewis. Joy’s story and her resilience were fascinating to me, as was the glimpse of a part of Lewis’ life that isn’t much talked about. If you’re into slow burning love stories with healthy doses of Oxford, the English countryside and writing about writing, then this is your book.
I preordered this book when it came out in October last year, and the saved it until I knew where we would be calling “home.” The first week we were there, I managed to locate the right box, found the book, and dove in with my coffee cup balanced on a plastic tote full of kitchen accoutrement. It was worth the wait.
A quiet, slow-burn of a novel that opens with a wedding and proceeds to tell the story of an Indian American Muslim family. It is exquisitely written and poignant in all the right places, and deftly woven together. I also appreciated reading the story of an Indian Muslim family in America, because as a white American Christian, that's not a story I'm personally familiar with. But I want to know experiences outside of my own existence, and fiction can be a really lovely way to do that.
Like I said, when I feel stressed or sad or anxious, my go-to cure is an uncomplicated novel set in Great Britain. It feels like a cup of herbal tea and a hot bath for my soul. This book fit the bill *insert chef’s kiss* perfectly.
This book felt like the literary equivalent of a macaron. Pretty, fun, flavorful, consumed within a few bites, but not incredibly substantial. Which is fine, you know? I don’t want my reading diet to consist solely of macarons, but they have their place. I learned a few useful things and overall found it an enjoyable weekend read.
Aside from the fact that I did struggle a bit with this book (as I no longer have a mother and do not currently have a daughter, it was hard to read at points) I immediately wanted to send a copy to every woman I know. Our bodies are incredible. Let’s do a better job of loving them.
Growing up evangelical, I was taught to give a side-eye to anything Catholic…which is why I haven’t read Richard Rohr until now. This is the first book of his that I have read and it most certainly will not be the last. I so appreciate his perspective on living the Christian life with simplicity.